Pizza maker awarded for US im­mi­gra­tion suc­cess

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - National -

A FA­MOUS Turk­ish pizza maker in New York was awarded the Bea­con Award for be­ing a suc­cess­ful im­mi­grant.

Or­ga­nized by the Dr. El­lis Is­land Honors So­ci­ety and the Amer­i­can Im­mi­grant So­ci­ety (AIS) for the first time this year, the Bea­con Awards cer­e­mony was hosted by Turk­ish-Amer­i­can celebrity sur­geon and talk show host Dr. Mehmet Öz to re­ward suc­cess­ful im­mi­grants.

AIS Pres­i­dent Mu­rat Köprülü said the award cer­e­mony was a very im­por­tant ini­tia­tive to re­ward young im­mi­grants and those who want to take new ini­tia­tives in the U.S.

Turk­ish pizza maker and owner of Cham­pion Pizza, Hakkı Ak­d­eniz re­ceived an award for his suc­cess as an im­mi­grant.

Ak­d­eniz shared his life story on stage af­ter re­ceiv­ing the award - the au­di­ence burst into ap­plause when he said that he was once home­less.

He has so far re­ceived a to­tal of 12 awards, in­clud­ing two from New York City Gover­nor An­drew Cuomo, one from New York Mayor Bill de Bla­sio, and one from New York Se­na­tor and Sen­ate Mi­nor­ity Leader Demo­crat Chuck Schumer.

Daphne Öz, the daugh­ter of health pro­gram pre­sen­ter and nu­tri­tion­ist Mehmet Öz, was also awarded that night.

The Cham­pion Pizza chain’s seven branches have al­ready be­come a pop­u­lar hang­out for Hol­ly­wood stars. The walls of the res­tau­rants are cov­ered with pic­tures of Hol­ly­wood celebri­ties, from Morgan Free­man and Keanu Reeves to Neil Pa­trick Har­ris and Su­san Saran­don.

Ak­d­eniz is also known for his help to those in need, poor and home­less. Af­ter Hur­ri­cane Maria hit Puerto Rico in 2017, the owner of the pizza chain an­nounced he would give free piz­zas to New York­ers who would bring wa­ter, can­dles, bat­ter­ies, flash­lights, di­a­pers, vi­ta­mins, paper tow­els and other es­sen­tial sup­plies to his res­tau­rants as do­na­tions. Part­ner­ing with Amer­i­can rap­per Jay-Z, Ak­d­eniz sent two trucks loaded with sup­plies to Puerto Rico.

He started from scratch and saved enough money to open up his first restau­rant and now gives free pizza, shoes and clothes to home­less peo­ple and those in need ev­ery Wed­nes­day.

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